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13th Parkinson's Unity Walk Raises Funds for Parkinson's Research While Offering a Day of Community, Education, and Fun

"The sea of people is amazing," exclaimed Michelle Charlesworth, ABC-TV news media anchorwoman and master of ceremonies as she addressed the attendees of the 13th Parkinson's Unity Walk, held under sunny skies on Saturday, April 28th, in New York City's Central Park.

The crowd has been growing since 1994, when Margot Zobel founded the Walk to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease and funds for Parkinson's research. "There were only 200 people walking that day- but we felt we were making history. We raised $16,000, and, as we had pledged, every penny was turned over to research,Ē stated Margot.

Since then, the Unity Walk has built upon the success of each previous year, increasing Parkinson's awareness, and much-needed funds for research, making it the largest annual event for Parkinson's disease. Saturday's crowd is estimated at over 11,000 people and we are sure that we will exceed last yearís $1.4 million. And, as pledged since the inception of the Walk, every penny raised continues to go directly to Parkinson's research. This is made possible through the Unity Walk's premier sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, the national sponsor, The Weather Channel and others including, Medtronic, Inc., Novartis, Schwarz Pharma, Teva Neuroscience, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, and Vernalis.

Prior to beginning the Walk, the crowd gathered around "Find the Cure Boulevard." The participants took advantage of the Ask the Doctor Booth, PDtrials, presenting the latest information on clinical trials, and the major U.S. Parkinsonís organizations and corporate sponsorís provided education on Parkinsonís disease and drug therapies.

At noon, the vast crowd gathered in the stage area as Michelle Charlesworth introduced a panel of speakers. Martin Tuchman, Chairman of the Unity Walk, read from a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring it Parkinson's Unity Walk Day. Margot Zobel, Founder of the Unity Walk, was greeted with a standing ovation. Maryum "May May" Ali, Muhammad Ali's daughter dazzled the audience with charm and her poem and Lonnie Ali, caregiver and wife of Muhammad Ali made a heartfelt speech and stated a sincere thank you to Michael J. Fox for what he has done in the community. Davis Phinney, Founder and President of the David Phinney Foundation, motivated the crowd with an uplifting speech. Amy Comstock Rick, Chief Executive Officer of the Parkinson's Action Network and Anne Udall, Chairman, Parkinsonís Action Network and daughter of Morris K. Udall, both greeted the crowd and gave enthusiastic speeches.

The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award was presented to Tamra Cantore for her exceptional work in the Parkinson's community. Michelle Charlesworth then introduced actor Michael J. Fox. The crowd reacted with thunderous applause as he passionately spoke about Parkinson's and the importance of the Unity Walk.

After the prize drawings and announcement of the top teams and individual fundraisers, the checkered flags were raised to mark the start of the Walk beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m. at the bandshell in Central Park near 72nd Street. Thousands of people, including more than 300 teams, walked the relaxing, wheelchair-accessible, 2-mile circular path under blue skies, sunshine, and gentle breezes.

All funds raised from the Walk are designated for research and will be distributed among the major U.S. Parkinson's disease foundations, including the American Parkinson Disease Association, the National Parkinson Foundation, The Parkinson Alliance, Parkinson's Disease Foundation, The Parkinson's Institute, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and Parkinson's Action Network.

Parkinson's disease is a gradual neurodegenerative disease that affects more than one million Americans. To find out more about Parkinson's disease and the Walk, please visit our website: www.unitywalk.org. You may also call us at 1-866-PUW-WALK (1-866-789-9255) or email us at info@unitywalk.org.

Source Date: May 15 2007
Source Publication: Parkinson's Unity Walk
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